Make Fear Your Friend

In the field of law, stress and fear are common emotions. Often, the stakes are high since the outcome of court proceedings can have a life-changing effect for the client and directly affect the reputation of your practice. In law school, students typically learn to win cases against their fellow students instead of how to focus on actual client solutions. Upon graduation, new lawyers can be hypercritical or overly sensitive which may make it tough to handle stress and fear. In addition, law schools often fail to teach students how to negotiate in stressful situations and how to handle negative emotions. According to studies, many lawyers fear negotiating because they believe that it will make them seem weak–this fear can harm your clients. For example a lawyer may settle an auto accident personal injury case too early to avoid the stresses of fighting for the best possible financial outcome. If you suffer from negotiating fear, one way to overcome it is by establishing positive relationships with the opposing counsel. Also, when situations become tense, consider using breathing techniques to settle down and regain your clarity.

The Upper Hand

The fear that lawyers experience has several causes. For instance, with all of the intricacies and performance elements required, you may be fearful of losing control of your case, looking foolish or failing your client during a negotiation. Keep in mind that despite the discomfort of the emotion, fear is not necessarily bad, but you will need to find a way to manage and welcome it instead of letting it overpower you. When facing a stressful legal situation, ask for support. Requesting the presence of your law partners or family members during an intense court case will likely encourage and motivate you to channel your “A” game. Even if you lose, you can still feel a sense of accomplishment that you faced your fears.

Fear and Your Physical Wellbeing

Intense stress and fear are common result from the feeling of being out of control of a situation and can have an effect on your physical wellbeing. You may experience extreme tiredness, irritability or even migraines. “Fight or flight” responses kick in and your adrenaline levels begin to rise. For some people, these conditions hamper their ability to think quickly and clearly. To counteract stress and fear, embrace techniques to help you diminish the emotions. Practice dealing with situations that frighten you outside of the courtroom—nothing reduces fear more than taking action even though you feel scared. Visualize and mentally rehearse situations that you know will increase fear and anxiety, use stress-management methods and establish appropriate goals. Breathing exercises and positive affirmations focused on a desired outcome can be very effective at calming nerves and delivering the best possible outcome for your client and firm.

Mindfulness Techniques

Carefully review how you perceive the individual functions of how you practice law. See every discussion and action as a sequence of events, each happening in the present moment. Focus on the needs of your clients instead of the stress and fear of the job and you will likely experience better results in the courtroom and an overall increase in a sense of wellbeing. When faced with a fearful situation, mindfulness and meditation will help you manage the negative feelings. Without a doubt, handling the powerful emotions that come with the practice of law is crucial to a fulfilling and successful career in law.

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